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Milwaukee asks residents to conserve water during flooding, here's what this means

MMSD announced on its website that they are issuing a "water drop alert."
city of milwaukee
Posted at 12:56 PM, Sep 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-13 15:58:23-04

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District is urging residents to use less water than normal to help the city's aging sewer system along during the strongest flooding we've experienced so far this year.

MMSD announced on its website that they are issuing a "water drop alert." The alert is a way to let residents know they should use less water. If residents use less water, that means there is less water in Milwaukee's sewer system that could overflow.

That's a problem in the first place in part because the gutters in some older homes are actually connected to the sewer system in Milwaukee.

"It helps keep extra gallons out of the sewer system that we don't need, especially when with the heavy amount of rain that we just had," said Bill Graffin, the Public Informations Officer with MMSD.

According to MMSD, the system is already seeing a backup. Some cities saw more than five inches of rain and every inch equates to 7.1 billion gallons of water.

WATCH: This is what a "water drop alert" means in Milwaukee

This is what a Water Drop Alert means in Milwaukee

"When you get too much water into the sewer system, it will start backing up into a sewage pipe and it will back up into people's homes and businesses unless we provide that relief," said Graffin.

The relief system is what they call the overflow, which is a valve in the sewer system that allows excess water in the system to go untreated into the river and eventually Lake Michigan.

"Our highest priority during a storm is to reduce the risk of basement backups and the only way we can do that is if immediately after is by having these overflows."

The water drop alert encourages folks to do their part in relieving the system.

"We’re not saying don’t flush, we’re not saying don’t use the system. Just try and reduce what you do use. We all use 60-70 gallons of water a day, try and cut it down to 40."


It's simple, try to use less water until the rain passes.

  • Hold off on washing dishes
  • Do the laundry tomorrow if there's heavy rain today
  • Take a shorter shower
  • Empty your rain barrel

The National Weather Service meanwhile has issued both a flood watch for much of SE Wisconsin until 1 p.m. Monday, and a flood warning for the Lower Fox River, the Root River, and Oak Creek.

The water drop alert ended Tuesday afternoon.

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